Officials in Hermosa Beach are shining more light on Pier Plaza thanks to a city council initiative passed last night.
Hermosa Beach City Council, citing safety concerns and downtown enhancements, approved new security lights and vintage-style light poles to illuminate Pier Plaza and create better ambiance to “stimulate economic growth.”
Approved Tuesday was the installation of new vintage light poles on Pier Plaza, replacing some that have been damaged by weather, as well as new string light configuration that will stretch across Pier Plaza.
“A big part of what we’re trying to do is change from what we have right now, which is string lighting and wrapping on the trees, which mostly provides ambiance, decorative lighting, but does not illuminate the plaza so as to enhance security,” said Councilmember Justin Massey.
In August 2017, the city awarded a contract to Environ Architecture Inc. (Environ), as part of its downtown strategic plan, to prepare the Crime Prevention Through Environment Design Lighting Assessment Report, which gave design recommendations. A report released in January 2018 identified “high security” areas that should be prioritized. The areas included 13th Court alleyway, 13th Street alleyway, Beach Drive alleyways, Parking Lot A and B and Pier Plaza.
According to a staff report, Environ also recommended replacing existing security lights on top of south Pier Plaza with catenary, or hanging, lighting suspended from string lighting that will help better light the center of Pier Plaza.
Last year, a Downtown Subcommittee including Mayor Stacey Armato, Massey and city staff debated between a modern or “vintage Hermosa style options” for new light posts.
The subcommittee preferred the vintage style that cost approximately $60,000 for 22 poles and fixtures, compared to $120,000 for modern style, according to the staff report because the vintage style complement the “current aesthetics for the downtown area.”
According to assistant to the city manager Nico De Anda-Scaia, additional lighting elements beyond what has already been committed to in the city's Capital Improvement Program, including the possibility of new lighting on the pier itself, would need to return to the city council as a separate discussion.
Councilmember Jeff Duclos has been championing pier lights featured in the 2016 Oscar-winning film “La La Land.” In October 2018, the city hosted the second “La La Land” Day featuring a temporary installation of the lights for nearly a week.
“We have a sense of what that looks like and I know a lot of my colleagues took a look at it,” Duclos said. “I thought it was helpful in that it invigorated that pier environment like I couldn’t believe.”
Gum Tree business owner Lori Ford, who helped form the Downtown Hermosa Business Association last year, said after talking to nearly 50 businesses in Hermosa Beach, the number one issue was “better lighting downtown.”
“It's not just on the plaza ... it's Hermosa Avenue and upper Pier Avenue to Valley,” Ford said.
Armato said the subcommittee will address lighting improvement in those areas in the future.
City staff will begin piloting variations of light fixtures on the plaza in the coming weeks, according to De Anda-Scaia.